Ohalot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Five

 

Introduction

Today’s mishnah continues to deal with a house with hatchways between multiple stories. The hatchways in today’s mishnah are less than one square handbreadth.

 

Mishnah Five

In a case where the hatchways do not have an opening of a square handbreadth:

1)      If there is uncleanness in the house, what is directly [below] the hatchways remains clean.

2)      If there is uncleanness directly [below] the hatchways, the house remains clean.

3)      [In the case] where the uncleanness is in the house, if an article whether susceptible to uncleanness or insusceptible to uncleanness was placed either in the upper or the lower [hatchway], nothing becomes unclean except the lower story.

4)      [In the case] where the uncleanness is directly [below] the hatchways, if an article susceptible to uncleanness was placed either in the upper or lower [hatchway], everything becomes unclean.  

5)      If the article is insusceptible to uncleanness, whether [it is placed] in the upper or lower [hatchway], nothing becomes unclean except the lower story.  

 

Explanation

Sections one and two: These are the same laws as seen in mishnah two, concerning a house that has only one story.

Section three: In this case it will not matter what type of article that was used to block up one of the hatchways, nor does it matter which hatchway is blocked up. The impurity is found below in the house and the mishnah rules that it spreads to the entire bottom floor, including the space directly below the hatchway. However, the impurity does not leave the bottom floor to defile the upper floors because the hatchway is less than a handbreadth wide. And even if the covering was placed on the uppermost hatchway, the middle stories do not become impure because we look at the covering as if it was below, on the bottom floor where the impurity is found, and that it serves to stop up the impurity there in the house.

Section four: If the impurity is found directly below one of the hatchways, then the halakhah is the same as it was in mishnah four. If the article is susceptible to impurity, it does not block the impurity below and all of the stories are impure (see yesterday’s mishnah).

Section five: And if the article is not susceptible to impurity, then wherever it is placed, only the lower story is impure. Something not susceptible to impurity can prevent impurity from spreading. And even if the article is placed on the upper hatchway, we look at it as if it was placed below, and only the lower story is impure (just as we did in section three).

 

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